Madness walks the streets of America. We can defeat it.

Summary: The front pages of major American newspaper these days read like the community newsletter for a high-class asylum, written by and for educated but mentally dysfunctional people. Those of the far Right read like the Arkham Asylum newsletter, written for and by brilliant but deranged people. While a natural reaction, it’s wrong. They prey upon our fears because it works, and generates cash for their patrons.  Understanding that is the first step to reform. This post gives two unusually clear examples.   {2nd of 2 posts today}

No Fear

Contents

  1. ISIS: a threat as big as the NAZIs!
  2. We must risk a nuclear war!
  3. For More Information.

(1)  The Islamic State poses a threat as serious as NAZI Germany

To our warmongers it’s always 1939. Threats are always like NAZI Germany. Negotiation always risks a repeat of Munich. Why don’t we laugh at the work of these people — such as “The Evil of our time” by Frederick W. Kagan at the American Enterprise Institute, 10 June 2015 — Excerpt…

The Islamic State (ISIS) is not a terrorist organization. It is an army of conquest destroying all traces of civilization in the lands that it holds. It has taken root in Iraq and Syria, but its evil threatens the whole world. The US must find an answer.

The greatest evil of our time has taken root in Iraq and Syria. … Comparing ISIS to the early Nazis is not hyperbole. … The threat of ISIS is more complex and insidious than that of Nazism.

… It is causing a humanitarian catastrophe on a scale not seen since World War II.

… There is no easy answer to the question: “What should we do?” But we must find the hard answer soon and gird ourselves for the pain and effort it will require. If not us, who? If not here, where? If not now, when?

Political rhetoric masquerading as analysis is the tool of choice for modern warmongers, and it has worked well. After 15 years of almost uniformly bad advice, the Kagan clan still has a prominent role in American geopolitics — a remarkable demonstration of our inability to learn from experience.

ISIS is the new NAZI

Needless to say, he doesn’t explain, let alone justify, the analogy with NAZI Germany or why ISIS poses a threat to the world. He appeals to American’s ignorance of history by saying ISIS “is causing a humanitarian catastrophe on a scale not seen since World War II.” The numbers are small on the list of horrors since WWII, even if you define “humanitarian catastrophe to exclude natural disasters…

Project Atom - cover of CSIS report

(2)  We must risk a nuclear war!

Reviving the cold war is too modest a goal for our warmongerers. Let’s lay the foundation for a hot war proposes a new report: “A Competitive Strategies Approach to Defining U.S. Nuclear Strategy and Posture for 2025–2050“. It’s the result of an aptly named Project Atom, by the Stimson Center, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), and the National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP) — with the report produced by Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

It’s the kind of advice we’ve seen so many times since Hiroshima. The enemy is always at the door, risking nuclear war is the solution, which means more money for DoD and the defense industry.

The nuclear strategy being recommended here is called “Measured Response.” This is not a new strategy; it is grounded in the U.S. strategy of escalation control that evolved as the United States turned away from the “massive retaliation” strategy of the 1950s and adopted “flexible response.” It’s about ensuring that there are no gaps in U.S. nuclear response options that would prevent it from retaliating proportionately to any employment of a nuclear weapon against the United States and its allies. U.S. conventional superiority lowers the nuclear threshold because it tempts conventionally weaker adversaries to early (rather than as a last resort) employment of a nuclear weapon in order to avoid adverse results at the conventional level.

By having a robust set of proportionate nuclear responses, the United States raises the nuclear threshold because it reduces the attractiveness of nuclear escalation. This may seem paradoxical, to be sure, but paradoxes seem to be endemic to any nuclear age.

… As it shapes its nuclear forces for coping with 2025–2050 realities, the United States needs to address its inferiority (with Russia) in nonstrategic nuclear forces (NSNF, but also known as “tactical nuclear weapons” or TNWs) by developing a robust set of discriminate nuclear options and forward-deployable nuclear weapons.

ThinkProgress’ Justin Salhani quoted other experts’ responses. They’re mild, but what you would expect reasonable people to say.

Murdock’s proposed strategy would not act as a deterrent but instead renew a nuclear arms race between global powers, experts specializing in nuclear weapons and disarmament told ThinkProgress. “There’s a number of reasons why this idea doesn’t make sense,” Kingston Reif, the Director of Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association, said. “[I don’t think that] Russia and China would understand its use to control escalation and not part of a campaign to change regimes in those countries.”

Such a move would be seen as provocative by the Chinese and Russians, Dr. Barry Blechman, a political scientist and cofounder of the Stimson Center who coauthored the report, told ThinkProgress.

With the strongest conventional military in the world at the U.S.’ disposal, experts believe that the threat of retaliation by conventional means is enough to deter the prospect of a nuclear attack.

Murdock’s idea for the U.S. to expand its arsenal of low-yield, tactical nuclear weapons and deploy them to allied countries was “terrible on so many grounds,” Blechman said, because it would upset U.S. allies uncomfortable with hosting nuclear weapons and would be “a huge waste of money.”

As we saw in our post-9/11 wars, sound analysis has little ability to stop our war machine. Expect a large part of these recommendations to appear in future DoD spending. That is, after all, the goal of the Project Atom.

Alice in "Madness Returns"
Alice in “Madness Returns”

For More Information

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Fear Wolf

 

 

10 thoughts on “Madness walks the streets of America. We can defeat it.

  1. I have been hearing people(Probably of a left-leaning political orientation) say that ISIS is Islamofascism. Which they are clearly not. Considering that fascism is a short term for national socialism which is at the same time a secular state.

    A misclassification also leads to a misunderstanding of the situation.

  2. The Third Reich had barking mad leadership just like IS but the similarities end there. Germany was an industrial and technological powerhouse. IS not so much.
    Germany never relied on a campaign to attract the world’s cohort of mentally ill to their cause. There’s a good reason for this. The problem of leading an army of crazy people is:
    They’re crazy!

  3. Fabius,

    Recently read “Washington in Wonderland Down the Iraqi Rabbit Hole (Again)” By Andrew J. Bacevich.

    An interesting thing that continues to come up when these fear articles come up is why. It’s always an explanation of why with a cursory glance at a how that feels as though it measures up to the depths of the why. But the how is consistently lacking.

    ISIS is a great evil so it must be met with great vigor and energy. This statement makes sense, ISIS is evil, but the problem is the how. Our political debate never seems to get into the how, it’s stuck forever with why. When we do hear how, it’s always from experts or academics, and that’s I think the biggest problem here.

    Our experts have betrayed us; they have a vested interest in telling us what their employers want them to say. Not all of them have done this, or even most (I don’t know how this could be judged), but there are enough that will say whatever they are told to say that it leaves us very stupid.

    PF Khans

    1. PFK,

      “This statement makes sense, ISIS is evil, but the problem is the how.”

      It makes sense only in the narrowest view. The world is filled with evil. How many times have we intervened in Africa to fight evil? Where were we when the Khmer Rouge killed millions? Especially sense ISIS so far looks like a ethnic militia. It might graduate from that, moving outside its base of Sunni Arabs — but so far shows no ability to do so.

      “Our experts have betrayed us; they have a vested interest in telling us what their employers want them to say.”

      I don’t know about your world, but in mine people do what their bosses tell them to do. That’s what the experts cited here do. That’s what I do (in 37 years in finance I’ve see my share of dubious things). When we no longer fall for the stories told by the likes of Fred Kagan, they’ll have to find honest work. Much the said can be said about the advertising experts on Madison Ave. Until then let’s not blame them for our weakness.

    2. Fabius Maximus,

      “It makes sense only in the narrowest view. The world is filled with evil. How many times have we intervened in Africa to fight evil? Where were we when the Khmer Rouge killed millions? Especially sense ISIS so far looks like a ethnic militia. It might graduate from that, moving outside its base of Sunni Arabs — but so far shows no ability to do so.”
      You’re falling into the trap here! I can cite articles where ISIS brags about enslaving women and killing non-believers. They’re evil, and so are a lot of other people. That word seems to be magic to a lot of Americans, some want to quash evil and others want to rationalize or trivialize. At the end of the day, this particular thing doesn’t matter to me because while it is my place to judge an act as evil or not, it doesn’t justify an act that is destructive, not my business, and unlikely to resolve things. Kagan is right that they’re evil in the same way that an obese person is right to want to lose weight. He’s wrong in the same way that that obese person would be wrong if he wanted to lose weight by eating lots of ice cream.

      “I don’t know about your world, but in mine people do what their bosses tell them to do. That’s what the experts cited here do. That’s what I do (in 37 years in finance I’ve see my share of dubious things). When we no longer fall for the stories told by the likes of Fred Kagan, they’ll have to find honest work. Much the said can be said about the advertising experts on Madison Ave. Until then let’s not blame them for our weakness.”

      There’s plenty of blame to go around here, but the blame should be higher for those who should know better. Experts in policy that discuss such madness are infinitely more to blame than a public that has no idea what works as global nuclear strategy. Our society, like all modern societies, functions because of divisions of labor. I cannot be an expert on everything all at once. Further, the Kagan clan isn’t just paying the bills and it’s not like they can’t afford to say no to their bosses. They want more money and influence than is normal so they say dumb things that make them rich. Let’s not pretend that the experts that play the game don’t end up wealthy.

      PF Khans

    3. PFK,

      (1) What’s “the trap”?

      (2) If you believe a solution is a nation where experts serve you rather than the people who pay them .. good luck with that. If we are foolish, powerful people will hire experts to fool us. It’s the Great Circle of Life. Get used to it.

    4. Fabius Maximus,

      1. The trap is that by falling into a question of ethics and the evilness of our enemy you accept his actions as being legitimate if they are evil. In a public debate, at least, the one crying evildoer can propose almost any method and not have those methods questioned. So if they can convince anyone that the group is evil then those who are convinced default to his/her methods, and chances are that any group has someone evil in it that can be defamed. Inconsistency in applying that moral lens is something everyone does so I don’t think anyone takes it seriously in a debate. So if Kagan says “they’re evil” and we respond by debating this, we ignore the fact that his methods are insane. I think a better response that would deflect the force of his rhetoric would be when he says evil to ask how does what you’re proposing help? Then, at the very least, you’ve moved him to a place where he now needs to prove the weakest par of his argument instead of his strongest. Morality plays are allowing the “tough guys” to break this country and fail at war and policing.

      2. Do you think a democratic society can exist if the opposite is true? Where our experts are all lying to us for their master?

      PF Khans

  4. And the FBI has been caught entrapping mentally handicapped in their ISIS terrorism sting operations. Last year, it was the DEA. They set up fake gun stores across from homes for the mentally disabled and set them up to be arrested for illegal gun purchases.

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